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Did you know that there are dementia friendly language guidelines published by Dementia Australia? They stress that “It is important to use language that focuses on the abilities (not deficits) of people living with dementia to help people stay positively and meaningfully engaged, and retain feelings of self-worth.” This is a good place to start thinking about whether your library is dementia friendly and how it can help people who are living with dementia stay engaged in meaningful ways.
People with dementia have different experiences and “the symptoms a person with dementia develops will depend on what part of their brain is affected”. This article explains further.
From a library perspective, people who are caring for a person with dementia may also have needs the library can consider. The wider community could also benefit from services and resources to raise awareness and to help them become more dementia friendly.
The following list of ideas has been compiled from a range of libraries and references.
Some good examples of dementia friendly libraries include:
- Sandal, West Yorkshire (planned in consultation with the Alzheimer’s Society and people who are living with dementia conditions)
- Woodson Regional Library
- Monash Public Library Service, Vic.
Library spaces and furnishings
The Sandal Library has a display of more than 100 local photographs on a rotating loop and say that “people sit in comfortable surroundings and watch them for ages”. The library also has a dementia-friendly garden.
Sandal Library chose chairs with wooden arms and non-patterned fabric because spots and stripes on chair fabrics and rugs can be confusing and detailed patterns sometimes appearing as if they are moving.
Clocks that display the time as well as the day and date may be helpful.
Did you know that choice of colour matters? Purple, green and blue may all look the same to a person with dementia. Sandal library chose chairs which are a burgundy colour as it “symbolises joy, Christmas and all things positive”.
Avoid pools of bright light and deep shadows. Dark rugs can look like holes in the floor.
When using a public toilet, a person with dementia may need help from their carer. Toilets for people with disabilities are usually for both sexes and there is plenty of room for two people. Alternatively, a family or unisex toilet will allow someone to be assisted without causing embarrassment to them or another user.
- Museums and Libraries - welcoming people living with a dementia and their families/friends is a useful checklist
- Dementia Friends training
- Reminiscence or Memory Boxes for loan which cover subjects like childhood, leisure, natural environment and working life. The themed resources and objects can be touched, handled and passed around to act as memory triggers to encourage communication.
- The memory lane collection is part of Monash Public Library Service developing a Dementia Friendly Library Service with input from Dementia Australia.
- The Dementia Australia Memory Van is a mobile education resource that travels into local communities providing information about dementia.
- Dementia Friends information sessions (this video shows what a dementia friend is )
- Memory Cafés are structured, informal gatherings for people with memory concerns and their carers for social engagement, enjoyment, and cognitive stimulation.
- Music and Memory is a program where family caregivers, therapists, or volunteers are trained to create personalized music playlists with music that is meaningful to the recipient.
- Gold Coast City Libraries had a “Butterflies for Dementia” community display and information sessions
- Dementia friendly book groups
- Port Macquarie-Hastings Library is helping their whole community become more dementia friendly through a range of programs